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Writer and ‘Philbert’ Actor Trustin Howard Dies

Variety logo Variety 4/27/2017 Sarah Ahern
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Writer and actor Trustin Howard, also known as Slick Slavin, died on April 20 after complications from a fall.

Born to poverty-stricken teenage parents in the slums of Chicago, Howard helped support his family from the age of 9 by performing on stage. By 15 years old, Howard’s career took off when he regularly performed at the Chicago Theatre, where he was introduced to the scene by his stage name Slick Slavin. He went on to perform at a variety of well-known nightclubs and theaters around the world, where he sang, played instruments, and did impersonations.

After serving in the Army, Howard returned to pursue a career as an actor, starring in films such as “Philbert,” “Speed Crazy,” and “King Creole” alongside Elvis Presley.

Howard later made the transition from acting to writing, eventually becoming head writer of the talk show “The Joey Bishop Show.” He went on to write and produce several television specials, including “The Night of Stars,” which honored 31 people, including the 14 members of the Wichita State University football team, who were killed in a plane crash.

Howard recently wrote several new books with accompanying screenplays, including “Winchell and Runyon,” the untold true story about the relationship between icons Walter Winchell and Damon Runyon, which won an award at the Hollywood Book Festival. Additionally, his paranormal thriller “The Channeler” was a first place winner at the Great Southeast Book Festival.

After writing almost 1,000 hours of TV and film, Howard was honored with a lifetime membership in the Writers Guild of America. As a signed recording artist and composer, he was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Howard is survived by three grandchildren, two siblings, a brother-in-law, and a sister-in-law.

A memorial for Howard will be held in June in Los Angeles.

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